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(E) Economical Croatia a good spring break
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  02/13/2006 | Tourism | Unrated
(E) Economical Croatia a good spring break


Economical Croatia a good spring break


The ancient walled town of Dubrovnik is a magnet for visitors to Croatia

Photo-Ken Krueger


Economical Croatia a good spring break

By Sandra Harper-Contributing writer

If thoughts of a holiday are tickling your fancy during the dreary winter months, Croatia should be first on your list.

A flight to England or Europe, followed by a short flight or a drive from Italy or Austria, and you are in Croatia-a country that combines beauty with a palette of activities.

From April to November, a visitor has lots of fun choices. Sun and swim on fabulous beaches lapped by the crystal clean water of the Adriatic Sea. Explore the historic ancient walled town of Dubrovnik, which is still the home and working place of Croatians. Sail or cruise among some of the mainly uninhabited string of 280 islands along the coast.

Spend time on one of the islands, like Korcula, settled by the ancient Greeks in the 6th century. Visit wineries and taste wine until your head spins. Climb an ancient wall at Mali Ston that is only somewhat shorter than the Great Wall of China. Climb mountains, golf, bike, visit the neighbouring countries of Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Or just sit and bask in the sun in one of the many town squares or islands.

Last October I flew from Vancouver to Manchester and then on to Dubrovnik for a sun-filled week of exploring Croatia in 20- to 22-degree temperature. Using that route meant a more economical ticket. The summer rush of European tourists was over by early September so I did not pre-book accommodation. There is a wide choice in Croatia: hotels, apartments to rent, charming rooms in private homes called sobes, campsites and the most beautiful hostel.

Getting off the airport bus at the Pile Gates of the old town of Dubrovnik, I was greeted by men and women with signs indicating that they had rooms available.

I walked to the tourist information office and the staff there sent me round the corner to Atlas Travel where I rented a very large bedroom-sitting room with an enormous bath in a 16th-century house just outside the town walls-for 30 Euros a night.

I was delighted with my room and with the 80-year-old landlady and her granddaughter, who shared their experiences and information. My room contained 17th-century furniture and number of large paintings from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

Rather than renting a car or taking the local buses, I used the local Atlas tour agency to book three day-tours. The first went to the fabulous Korcula Island, combined with Mali Ston wall climbing and a visit to a winery, followed by a day tour of the high mountain and uninhabited beaches of Montenegro. It finished with an eye-opening trip to war-torn Moster in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Tours ranged around 45 Euros. Local buses for local travel cost about two Euros and were easy to use.

That left me with four days to explore the old town and the new area around the inner harbour of Dubrovnik and visit the small island of Lokrum-just a 15-minute ferry ride from the old harbour of Dubrovnik-to explore the botanical gardens and get lost in the ancient forest. Local boats ferried visitors to a small village of Cavtat-another Greek settlement and a smaller, charming version of Dubrovnik.

Meals were delightful and varied. I particularly savoured the mussels, squid, steak and ham. Pizzas and vegetarian meals were tasty and easily available. A glass of Croatian wine or beer always accompanied the food.

People are polite, kind and welcoming. They speak English, French, Italian and German. Crime appears rare, although police were not obvious.

The waters of the Adriatic Sea are refreshing and inspiring. Crowds of tourists come in July and August so there is still an off-season. Prices, in Kunas, are reasonable right now, but that will change in a couple of years when Croatia joins the European Union.

Dubrovnik is a jewel of a city. No wonder people have been visiting and staying since 1000 BC.

published on 01/27/2006

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